Going to school and living with any medical condition means you have to be extra grown up. HIV is no different. You may be keeping it a secret, or you may be open with your friends and school. Either way HIV is a virus that needs to be managed. Your life can be as successful and fun as anyone else’s; you just have to take care of yourself and your health.
How to stay strong at school
Fight stigma: Stigma means that when people find out that you are HIV positive, they think bad things about you. They may discriminate against you by avoiding you and treating you unkindly. Stigma and discrimination are wrong and against your rights and you may report people who are treating you unfairly because of your HIV status.
Tackle bullies: If you are open about your status, deal with bullies and judgments head-on. Often stigma comes from ignorance or fear of HIV. Report bullies to a teacher or your parent. Help others when you see them being teased.
Live a healthy life: Focus on the positive, eat well, avoid stress, do exercise and try to enjoy your life. Managing your HIV status takes planning so you can focus on your future goals and dreams.
Become a champion: Share what you know about HIV and ARVs with your school. Teenagers have a lot to teach others – even their parents and teachers. You can start an HIV/AIDS campaign at your school to raise awareness.
There are a number of organisations out there that you can join where you can meet other people living with HIV. To find one in your area ask at your local health facility. Facebook: Youth Action Movement Swaziland.